Purdue’s Zach Edey Leads Most Outstanding Player Odds

If you’ve watched a minute of college basketball over the last two years, you know just how good 7-foot-4 Purdue center Zach Edey is. He was the consensus National College Player of the Year award-winner in 2023, sweeping the six different organizations that grant the honor, including the Los Angeles Athletic Club, which names each year’s Wooden Award winner. 

He’s the favorite to win it again when it’s awarded in April for this season.

As for Edey’s place among the favorites to win Most Outstanding Player, he began at +1300 and was in a tight race with Donovan Clingan and Tristan Newton of UConn. Because of Connecticut’s place as the favorite to win the entire tournament, their two best players are in the running.

But over the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, and with the field going from 64 down to 16, it is clear that while those two players might play for the best team, the best player is Edey.

Edey Dominates Grambling State

It’s not surprising that no one on Grambling State or Utah State could handle Edey in the first two games of March Madness. But even by Edey’s lofty standards, he was outstanding.

In Purdue’s win on Friday, Edey led the way with 30 points and 21 rebounds, making him the first 30-20 player in the NCAA Tournament since Maryland’s Joe Smith did it in 1995. Smith went on to be the first overall pick in the NBA Draft three months later.

Grambling guard Kintavious Dozier said after the game, “I think nobody has seen anything like Zach Edey. That’s kind of unreal. What they say he is on paper, he’s exactly that.”

Grambling head coach Donte Jackson, speaking to future Purdue opponents, said, “The reality of the situation is, I hope you’re equipped for it.”

Edey and Purdue Crush Utah State

We thought that maybe Utah State was equipped for it. They have Isaac Johnson, the Big Fish, and he was coming off a 19- point, 4-block performance in the Aggies win on Friday over TCU. At an even 7-foot-0, maybe his size could make Edey work hard for his points, slowing down the overall Boilermaker offense.

That was all nice in theory. But it did not come close to actually happening.

Edey had his double-double with more than five minutes remaining in the first half, and by halftime, Purdue was leading 49-33, and Edey had 21 points and 11 rebounds. Things got even worse for the Aggies in the second half, with the final score 106-67, and Edey finishing with 23 points and 14 rebounds, spending the majority of the second half on the bench and rooting on his teammates.

Edey finished the first two rounds of the tournament with 54 points, 35 rebounds, and 65% shooting. The last player to do that was UCLA’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1968. A year later, he was selected with the NBA’s No. 1 overall pick.

New Odds for Most Outstanding Player

The top three players on the odds board for MOP of the NCAA Tournament are still the same top three players from before the tournament. But the odds now for Edey are +800. Clingan and Newton are tied at +900, and the rest of the field is fading. 

Jamal Shead of the Houston Cougars is at +1200, his teammate L.J. Cryer is +1400, and Caleb Love of Arizona is +1600.

Of the top-12 players on the MOP odds board, UConn has four players, Houston has three, and Arizona has two. But for Purdue, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, Edey is the man. As he goes, so go the Boilermakers. If they win the tournament, he wins the award. And even if Purdue doesn’t win, a win for Edey wouldn’t be unprecedented. The last non-NCAA Tournament champion to win the Most Outstanding Player award was Hakeem Olajuwon in 1983. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft in 1984.

This June, we will find out where Edey is picked.

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